This past Thursday I attended the preview opening for the Roy De Forest retrospective at the Oakland Museum. A professor from Carnegie Mellon, Bob Bingham worked for Roy a few decades (!!) ago. Thanks to Bob, I was able to see this opening and gain perspective on art that I am so clearly influenced by.
Roy’s work was SO inspiring, colorful, and fun. As an artist in this time, where art is so free and open to be whatever you want it to be, it’s sometimes not so obvious how other artists broke barriers, which opens up doors for future artists. I think of this in a similar way to feminism – women of the past fought hard and demanded rights that we often overlook – voting, owning credit cards and homes, pursing a professional career, having a family as a choice rather than an expectation, etc. Our actions are bigger than just ourselves. Roy’s work – though personal and intuitive – has many characteristics that I use in my work, and that I see in other contemporary artist’s work: bold lines, immediacy, over saturation of colors, and as Bob said, “maximalism.” Every inch of his big canvas paintings were full of layers of paint.
Bob told me that Roy would paint for 7 hours a day. He would make around six (large, overly detailed, intricate, full of love and expression) paintings a year and averaged a drawing a day. Art is work! I appreciate and admire Roy’s work. See photos below.
Bob also said that Roy didn’t talk much, but he did talk to his dogs. I often think paintings of pets are kind of cheesy, but as a unique artist, Roy was able to do it well. So much magic in these otherworldly pieces.